Ham hocks are really the gift that keep on giving. Tender meat shreds well off the bone and the poaching liquid is beautifully meaty. As it simmered away merrily filling up the flat with smells akin to bacon, I decided to make the most of the richly flavoured broth and came up with this soup. With a few vegetables simmered in it, the flavours were clean and summery, enlivened with the addition of a spoonful of basil, parsley and Pecorino puree, turning my bowl into an algae-green.
And I've still got some ham hock left to make a pie. A summery pie.
Summer Ham & Orzo Soup
Serves 2 with leftovers
1 smoked ham hock - soak overnight in water, to remove some saltiness.
2 bay leaves
3 sticks of celery
4 black peppercorns
Cover the ham hock with water and add the above; simmer on a very low heat for 2 hours. Remove the hock; discard the skin and fat, the flesh should just flop off the bone. Strain the stock and skim off the fat.
100gr orzo, cooked separately
1 courgette, cut into batons
1 carrot, diced
1 plum tomato, skinned, seeded and diced
Warm up the stock and add the carrot. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the courgette, simmering for a further 10 mins. Take off the heat and add the orzo and the tomato to warm through. Add a quenelle of the herb puree (below) to finish.
A large handful of basil
Half that of parsley
A squeeze of lemon
A clove of garlic
A handful of grated Pecorino, or Parmesan
Whizz the above in a blender until nicely emulsified.